Why 'Think Like a Man' Won't Open in France

Global Voices contributor Fabienne Flessel tackles why American films with all-black casts rarely get a chance in French theaters.

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International appeal is extremely important to the bankability of Hollywood films, and Global Voices writer Fabienne Flessel looks at how this paradigm affected the release of Think Like a Man in France. Despite the film's box-office success in America and a ready-made audience comprised of Afro-Europeans in France, the film based on Steve Harvey's best-selling book is not available in French theaters.

Surprising as it may be, the answer lies in the fact that the film has an all-black cast. French cinema is often pointed at for not fairly displaying all components of the country's multi-ethnic population. Although the recent success of the movie Les Intouchables, which earned French African actor Omar Sy the Cesar award for Best Actor in 2012, caused great pride and hope among French nationals from Africa and the Caribbean, it was not to be the turning point for a deep and lasting change.

Martinican blogger Bondamanjak is very cynical after this tainted victory, as he explains [fr] that Omar Sy's award nomination did not come all naturally, but was rather due to the great number of viewers in theaters.

"... And all French people as one man forget that Omar Sy was not initially shortlisted as a nominee for the Cesars […] It was only when the ‘Intouchables' reached 19 000 000 viewers in theaters, that people started calling out to the French movie industry about its indignant attitude, and that they acknowledged the wrong. However be sure that this award is only an opportunistic drop of water in a desert which keeps moving forward."

How can racial profiling in cinema be explained?

Martinican blog People Bo Kay reposts a note published [fr] on the Facebook page of Negro News, entitled “France does not want all-black couples in movies”. This analysis, which has now gone viral, develops ideas about communalism and politics in France, which are supposed to explain the rejection of the movie.

Read Fabienne Flessel's entire op-ed at Global Voices.

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